Report: Central Italy residents ate mercury poisoned food for 30 years

Friday, 04 April 2014

Residents in a wide area of central Italy have eaten mercury-poisoned food for more than 30 years, the Italian Higher Institute for Health (ISS) said on Thursday.

“There is a concrete danger for human health bound to the ingestion of mercury that was conveyed through soil, sediment and surface water in the food chain,” the ISS said in a court-evidence report in a trial over harmful contamination.

Investigators opened a probe in 2007 over harmful contamination in a chemical industrial area near the city of Pescara after they uncovered an illegal toxic dump that had polluted nearby rivers and aquifers since early 1960s.


More than 20 people were currently being investigated, including managers of Italian former chemical producer Montedison and the Belgian company that acquired the chemical industrial area in 2002, Solvay.

The ISS said that medium and high levels of mercury were found in fish as well as in the hair of local fishermen as far back as 1972. Vegetables grown in the area were also showing excessive quantity of the substance, the report said.


Water contaminated from the toxic dump had been distributed over the course of years to about 700,000 people and to hospitals and schools near Pescara.

Ermete Realacci, the head of the environment commission of the Italian lower chamber, has defined the toxic dump as “an ecological bomb, the biggest in Europe,” interred at the feet of two national parks in the heart of Italy.

The lack for any information concerning the contamination of water has prevented authorities from making appropriate treatment decisions in time, the ISS has said.

Categories: Emerging Contaminants, Environmental

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